Dredging Reservoir + Extending CHO = Savings?

Comedian Brian Regan has a bit in his routine that I particularly like:

You see weird things driving… I’ve never understood log trucks. Sometimes you’ll be out on the highway, you see two big giant trucks loaded up with logs, and they pass each other on the highway… I don’t understand that. I mean, if they need logs over there… and they need ’em over there, you’d think a phone call would save ’em a whole lot of trouble.

In this week’s Hook, Lisa Provence explores a similar scenario: dredging the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir and using the soil to extend the CHO runway. It’ll cost an enormous amount of money to have the dredged silt hauled away and put somewhere, and the airport is looking at spending $15M to buy the soil to extend their runway. Supporters of increasing our water supply by dredging the reservoir (as opposed to the planned Ragged Mountain/South Fork pipeline approach) figure this is something well worth looking at doing to save money all around. I’m not equipped to say whether or not this is a good idea, but I certainly love this kind of thinking.

28 Responses to “Dredging Reservoir + Extending CHO = Savings?”


  • Waldo, I see no reason why both things can’t be done. I’m for the raising of Ragged Mountain, but there’s still room for dredging. I wrote about it on my own blog at http://tlpatten.blogspot.com/2008/02/water-supply-combined-form.html.

    It drives me a little nuts to see environmental angst play out this way in the public sphere. There is no need for this level of conservationist cannibalization. Both options are better than the James pipeline. Both options will be costly. The hidden costs in dredging may far outweigh the other options, once the reports on sedimentation come in, or not. Tom Frederick has said several times that what he is doing is addressing the practical process of instigating the supply plan, and that there is still room to tweak it.

    I, for one, am taking him at his word. He is, after all, the only person at the table who is responsible for the process–the rest of us do not have to answer to state and federal authorities. We should refine within reason, and let the man do his job with the rest.

  • I am taking it that TLPatten is expecting the RWSA to conduct a real investigation into the current cost for dredging. The last I’ve heard there is no such plan.
    Mr. Frederick does not have to answer to state or federal authorities. He is an employee of the RWSA. As an employee, part of his responsiblities is to see to it that the board’s actions are in compliance with state and federal regulations (since it’s RWSA that will have to pay if they are non-conforming).
    This whole process has been a mystery to me. Several years ago when there was a different director, the plan, developed over a period of time, called for a bladder. The director mysteriously resigned. A new director was hired and the bladder plan was scrapped in favor of the current $142M plan. Now, we’re told there is another $41M to be spent on top of that to fix another treatment plant although it will be taken out of service soon after. And, mysteriously, the decision-makers have been resolutely opposed to any part of the previous plan, including getting a true estimate for the cost of dredging. Maybe that’s why the previous director “quit:” his plan wasn’t grand enough. These are the people on the Board who actually make the decisions (although recently only one could vote because of conflict-of-interest issues) – Mike Gaffney, Chairman; Appointed
    Gary O’Connell, Authority Vice-Chairman; City Manager of the City of Charlottesville; Ex-Officio
    Robert W. Tucker, Authority Secretary-Treasurer; County Executive of Albemarle County; Ex-Officio
    Judith M. Mueller, Director of Public Works of the City of Charlottesville; Ex-Officio
    Gary W. Fern, Executive Director of the Albemarle County Service Authority; Ex-Officio.
    Herein lies the problem. These people, with exception of the chairman, have a long history of spending as grandly as their bosses will let them. Just look at the plans for Firestation Deluxe de Hollymead and Transit Center de Useless at Mall.

  • Reminds me of when I was working for the Central Artery/Third Harbor Tunnel Project back in my Boston days. Interstate 93 through downtown was changed from an above ground monster to a tunnel underneath the same place, done while the bridges were still in place. The planners knew that this project would dig up a lot of old dirt (and who knows what else) and they had to do something with it, so they chose to put it on barges and increase the size of Spectacle Island in Boston Harbor. Spec is now much larger and part of a state park consisting of several islands in the harbor, and the dirt wasn’t hauled through town, as the harbor is very near to the artery.
    Locally, we should all be thinking about the affect on our roads if a lot of dirt is hauled from one part of the county to the other. Would the hauling take a single route from the reservoir to the airport? How many truckloads of fill would be hauled? What hours would they be doing the hauling? How many trucks at one time would be doing the work? All these questions and more should be known up front.

  • Worried about how many truckloads it will take to haul silt from the South Fork? I wonder how many truck trips it will take to haul away the 50,000 trees cleared from the Ragged Mountain Natural Area for
    the new mega-reservoir.

    Has anyone read Charlottesville’s environmental sustainability policy lately? Or RWSA’s?

    Conservation, Restoration, Stewardship, Sustainability of our natural and built environment, and my favorite “Reduce the environmental footprint”

    Yet, under this plan, we are going to destroy pristine wildlife habitat in lieu of preserving the natural resources we already have. That’s not sustainability… that’s 17th century tobacco farming. Use it, abuse it, then move on to new fertile ground.

    It will happen, UNLESS…. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6650219631867189375

  • If they can pipe water from Ragged Mountain then they can sluice silt a couple of miles to the airport.
    TheLorax, those words were put in those doucments solely for the purpose of getting votes, obviously. Pressure should be put upon Council to keep to their words.

  • I like the idea of getting RWSA sharing its dirt with the Airport. That’s one of the best ideas CSWP has had since it formed and grew to 6 members strong.

    I support the idea of having RWSA spend tens of thousands more to pay a consultant to give us another 32 options. Let’s use more of ratepayers’ money to pay more consultants to give us another 32 flavors to choose from. Just to be safe, I recommend we find at least three dredging companies that will give us quotes on sucking out the South Fork. Dredging companies are so much more reputable than those dam builders. Maybe they’ll sell us a bridge at below cost, too.

    Even better, let’s see if the city and county will be able to agree on another water supply solution. But to make sure we’re doing the right thing, we should wait another 30 years for someone else to come up with a viable solution. Then we can thaw Rich Collins from the cryo-freeze to have him shake his fist and declare it flawed and start again.

    Oh, I know, I really like CSWP’s idea to have Charlottesville and Albemarle residents foot the bill (more consultants) to explore the remote possibility of buying a quarry from a company that is still using the quarry and might not want to sell it to us and is located downstream of a sewage treatment plant.

    To top it off, let’s have Rich Collins–after he’s done fighting the man for the right for us to pester grocery shoppers with campaign literature–re-appointed as chairman of the RWSA. He’ll put things back to the way they were when we didn’t have a plan.

  • To quote The Big Lebowski, “I’ve got information man! New **** has come to light!”
    Yes, the current water supply plan made the most sense with the information on the table at the time. That information appears to be different now. Should we blunder ahead anyway and possibly waste millions of tax dollars or hash this out again, do the process right, and come up with something we can agree on with our eyes open?
    It’s upsetting that the information might not be right. It doesn’t mean that Tom Frederick or the consultants are corrupt or incompetent. Everything seemed kosher at the time, and there was a sense of urgency, that things had to be decided quickly. Nine figure projects demand proper thought and deliberation.

  • I will probably regret responding at this time of night, but I have to point out a couple of things:

    From CvilleEye:
    “I am taking it that TLPatten is expecting the RWSA to conduct a real investigation into the current cost for dredging. The last I’ve heard there is no such plan.
    Mr. Frederick does not have to answer to state or federal authorities. He is an employee of the RWSA. As an employee, part of his responsiblities is to see to it that the board’s actions are in compliance with state and federal regulations (since it’s RWSA that will have to pay if they are non-conforming).”

    No, I’m not expecting RWSA to get another estimate. They’ve been told by a higher governmental authority than the locals that they are not required to. I am expecting that the parties who are most interested in dredging will convince the municipalities do get the study done. And I expect them to succeed in this because of the amount of time and effort they’ve put into making this a very public local media debate.

    CvilleEye, please make up your mind. Either Frederick is “does not have to answer” or he has ensure “compliance with state and federal regulations.” Since RWSA has gone through the permitting stage, that puts this project squarely on the state and federal table to regulate and demand compliance. I’m not sure how one must ensure compliance without being answerable, unless you are implicitly stating that there are no consequences for delinquency in such matters. It is my understanding that, once the permits have been granted, the permitee must demonstrate good faith or suffer penalities, although I admit my understanding could be outdated.

    You could argue that it’s worth a few penalties to sort this out and come up with a different plan that meets the objectives, but that isn’t what you said. So, I’m asking for clarification.

  • Oh, and Gannett Fleming DOES do dredging. A simple search of their website — if anyone bothered to use their search engine and put in the word “dreding” — comes up with this page which lists their area of services: http://www.gannettfleming.com/search.asp?dropXSL=1&pr=GFNET&query=dredging

    So I see no overt reason to doubt their estimate.

  • If memory serves me well (and trust me – sometimes it doesn’t), the last time they talked about dredging the reservoir there were two issues: trucking it away would be extremely expensive, and leaving it here wasn’t practical because it would take literally years to dry and settle. Maybe there’s a way to accelerate the process, but if not the dredged silt may not be practical to put a runway on unless it sits in place for a couple of years.

    And I think the capacity estimate for the dump trucks is accurate – this isn’t dry dirt – in fact, it’s mostly water in terms of weight. Perhaps dump trucks can’t be filled to the top when the soil is that wet. Seems to make sense.

  • I took TLPatten’s statement “I’m for the raising of Ragged Mountain, but there’s still room for dredging.” to mean something it didn’t, obviously. Sorry.
    Re-reading my statement about the role Mr. Frederick should play as an employee, I can see where it may be confusing. I liken his relationship to the board as being similar to that of Gary O’Connell and City attorney Craig Brown. It is there job, by local mandate, not state or federal, to see to it that City dots its eyes. If it doesn’t, neither O’Connell nor C. Brown is handle accountabie on projects with state and federal involvement, just the City. If there are fines, the employees do not pay out of their pockets. His job is to fill out the necessary forms, understand thoroughly the applicable state and federal regulations, interpret them to the board, and counsel the board when its judgment conflicts with any of those regulations. I hope this clarifies my earlier statements.
    There is a difference between the state and federal governments granting a permit and issuing a mandate. If the Louisa Nuclear Company is granted a permit to build another reactor, it is not required to do so. It can re-evaluate its situation (needs, finances, etc.) and decide not to proceed in that direction. The permit says this is an acceptable plan. The City’s granting me a permit to build a deck out back does preclude my changing my mind and seeking a permit to build a gazebo instead The locality will not be penalized if it decides to do nothing even after getting the permit.

  • If you agree after reading this excellent article that our officials should seek a new cost estimate and feasibility study to restore the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir and also the Sugar Hollow Reservoir by an experienced environmental dredging company please visit the web-site created by the Citizens for a Sustainable Water Plan to let your voice be heard. You will find there the entire timeline of how decisions were made, see even more graphs,maps and pictures of the South Fork and Ragged Mt. Reservoirs and learn how you can contact city and county officials, who ultimately bear responsibility for whatever plan we end up with.


    These companies will come free of charge just to bid on this job as Hawes Spencer, editor of the Hook, reported on WINA on Friday on the Coy Barefoot show

  • It is clear to me that this is not a BoS/CCouncil-driven proposal. By the composition of the the RWSA, it is also clear that the previous director did not propose a project large enough. They got rid of him, threw out a ridiculous proposal concerning the James, thereby misdirecting public’s attention, then slid in the proposal they had all along. Now they have their little moles running around trying to discourage a more comprehnesive look at the full range of options. Why would they do this? Money. When these people retire, they’re going to remain in the job market just like Watts, Symons, and Hendricks. This project is designed to enhance the resumes of four-fifths of the RWSA’s board, all bureaucrats. Why else is it so important to rush building infrastructure for water needs 50 years out as opposed to phasing the project to spread out the cost over those people who will actually be using it? They won’t be submitting resumes in 2050, that’s why.
    These Authorities are not directly answerable to the voters or the taxpayers and I certainly hope the public will not support establishing any more of them, e.g. transit.
    In this matter, it seems we have both an inattentive BoS and a Council that is the lapdog of the City Manager. If you disagree, try contacting your local government and letting them know how you feel. If you want a look at dredging, you’re going to be put off by the majority. Remember, two of our current Councilors worked under Mr. O’Connell and still think as bureaucrats. For example, Mr. Tucker of Albemarle has a luxurious firestation near Hollymead coming on line for a little over $5M. So…. Gary O’Connell announces he is going to build a $10M firestation in the Fontaine area (without a Council vote) in order to say “Here, Tucker,in your face! I am more of a king in my domain than you can ever be in yours. Look what I’m going to do with CARS.” Despite public outcry, Council sits quietly in his lap wagging its tail, waiting to be taken for a walk and then get a treat before being put to bed to sleep. Don’t believe me? Contact them. Go ahead, I dare you. I thought not. You don’t really way to see who’s boss.

  • Cville Eye your conspiracy theory sounds ridiculous. Bob Tucker and Gary O’Connell competing for who’s got the biggest fire station. Come on.

    I certainly don’t know the circumstances of the previous RWSA director’s resignation, because RWSA’s refused to tell anyone what happened. Very rarely do personnel matters see the light of day. But I recall that Tropea also resigned from a job in Florida after only three months because he had a disagreement with a fellow supervisor. This was following his work for RWSA where he resigned. So, I think it’s pretty stupid to make an assumption that he didn’t propose an idea grand enough for the RWSA board.

    I do think that the city and county, including folks like Kevin Lynch, to rethink how the board is governed at RWSA. There should be more citizens on the board.

  • Kevin Lynch is no longer on Council.

  • Of course he isn’t. But he had plenty of time to convince fellow councilors to do something, which he didn’t.

  • I don’t understand why we are talking about him. Are you saying that, if Lynch couldn’t influence Council on this matter, then it’s a waste of time for others to try?

  • From Flemming’s web site: “We have prepared Environmental Impact Statements and Environmental Assessments for a wide range of major federal actions:

    Highways and Bridges
    Transit Lines and Stations
    Intermodal Facilities
    Water and Wastewater Systems and Treatment Facilities
    Pipelines and Stations
    Dredging Operations
    International Border Stations
    Government Buildings and Facilities
    Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling
    Coastal Wetlands Restoration”
    It seems they advertise that they provide only environmental impacts analyses of dredgin, not feasibility studies nor cost analysis.

  • Joe Mooney and Kevin Lynch spoke at Council tonight. Lynch indicated that a previous vote on approving the plan called for phasing, something was taken out later by the Board (O’Connell and others). He called upon Council to take control of the situation. There were no substantive responses from Council. For the first time in eight years, Mr. Lynch kept his comments to three minutes. He’ll be on the Schilling Show with Mr. Frederick, director of RWSA, on WINA 1070 between 1 and 2 PM this coming Thursday. I hope he asks who is the heavyweight on the Board pushing this exorbitant project. On the matter of dredging, according to the Charlottesville Tomorrow blog, Joe Mooney was quoted as saying that limited dredging will be ongoing in the future in order to prevent the complete filling-up of the reservoir; he called it “maintenance dredging.”

  • Gary O’Connell’s logic in the matter of the outrageously expensive reservoir project is carried over into his $10M “long-term investment” (one of his favorite phrases to give people the idea that he is employing sound business practices in his decision-making) new fire station in the Fontaine area, possibly on UVA property: http://dailyprogress.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=CDP/MGArticle/CDP_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1173354837261&path= . Since there has been no significant growth in that area since the late sixties, is this good long-term planning? In the article, he says our fire service contracts are a “help” to the County (where the growth will be for the the new fire station to service). Obviously, this new fire station will be, too. Rubberstamp, Council, rubberstamp. Notice, by the way, all the new fire stations proposed for the County in the future.

  • Sorry, but Joe Mooney never made the remarks attributed to me by Cville Eye on March 3; The Charlottesville Tomorrow blog must be quoting someone else, or it is a plant by the forces of evil.

  • Sorry, Mr. Mooney, I’m sure I made the mistake, not Charlottesville Tomorrow. The comments appears to have been made as “Public comments on the Community Water Supply Plan


    September 23, 2007
    Lois Rochester” ” would like to make two additional points. First, the community will continue to depend on the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir in the future even though siltation continues. Citizens have been told that maintenance dredging will be done. ” South Fork Rivanna maintenance dredging&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us . Thanks for setting the record straight.

  • Don’t forget Lynch and Frederick on the Schilling Show tomorrow on WINA 1070 AM at 1 PM. Lynch is very good on the radio.

  • Even though RWSA claims it will maintain the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir which is filling with silt
    from this week’s Hook by Hawes Spencer
    ” he concedes(Frederick) that nowhere in his $142 million 50-year water plan is any money budgeted for dredging”
    Mr. Frederick is caught between a rock and a hard place he claims now that dredging in todays dollars are going to cost between 200-225 million and he also claims he will maintain our Reservoirs with no money budgeted and no study of how to do it. The Hook has found Dredging Companies (their last issue)
    that estimate dredging between $38.5 and $57.5 million. And as reported by Joe Mooney and also quoted in the Daily Progress the Airport needs 40 Million dollars of fill and the sooner the better or they may lose some of their direct connections. This is a win win situation for our community which could save tax payers tens of millions of dollars open new business opportunities and build a new runway.
    So bring in the dredging companies who can’t wait to give us free cost estimates. Any other approach before spending over $100million for a new dam would be foolishness!!!!

  • It’s nice to know tht everybody is not asleept. This water plan, like the CARS plan, must have been crafted by Gary O’Connell; it doesn’t stand up to closer inspection. Be sure to listen to Lynch and Frederick today on the Schilling Show.

  • Lynch charged in on the dredging issue and Frederick danced a jig around it. That’s called job protection. His bosses are interested.

  • I meant to say “His bosses are not interested.”

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